October 25, 2014

Smarten up your TV with the $50 FAVI Android SmartStick

smartstick720
smartstick720

If you picked up a new television over the last couple of years the chances are good that you weighed the option of a “smart” TV. Thanks to HDMI and a growing assortment of add-on products, those who opted for a standard model can now smarten their TV up. One such device that’s is worth considering the FAVI Entertainment SmartStick.

At only $50*, this 4GB product plugs into the HDMI port of your television and gives it a full-on Android experience. Now, before going any further, I should point out that this is not a Google TV device; rather, this provides a nearly stock Android UI. It takes a bit of getting used to but it’s priced right and makes for a convenient, and familiar experience.

smartstickinputSetup is rather easy and the SmartStick comes with a very simple diagram of how to go about the process. In a nutshell, you connect to HDMI and your wireless internet. From there, you can hop to your input whenever you want.

In order to fully utilize the SmartStick you will want pick up the Wireless Keyboard with Mouse Touchpad. Yes, it runs about $40, bringing the total price to $90 or so. Without it, however, you’ll find navigation quite difficult. The desktop experience is a little awkward at first but gets easier with time. The remote control (IR port) that comes in the box works, sure, but games and clicking around on website are nearly impossible.

In the box:

  • SmartStick
  • Remote Control
  • HDMI Adapter
  • IR Receiver
  • miniUSB Power Cable
  •  Quick Connect Guide

The desktop experience allows for widgets, which is nice for those who like to have weather or email notifications close at hand. In terms of apps that work well, think Roku and you’ll be on the right track. Netflix, Hulu+, HBO Go, Facebook, Pandora, Slacker Radio, and Flixter work great.  Try playing a game, however, and you’ll come away upset. Another way the FAVI device works great is in using Google Play movie and TV show rentals and purchases.

Where I found the SmartStick to be convenient was in notifications and quick text replies (Google Voice). I like being able to tap out a message, reply to emails, clean up the inbox, and other things of the sort. The entire Google Play Store is available but your results with vary depending on the type of apps you want to use.

favi_keyboard

The FAVI SmartStick requires power at all times so keep an outlet free. What’s more, the add-on Wireless Keyboard needs to be charged up every so often, via miniUSB. There is an indicator light that tells you how much juice is left and we found it lasted longer than we expected.

For $50 you get 4GB internal storage with a microSD expansion card slot. If you need more, you can spring for the 8GB model for $79.99.

What we liked:

  • Works great as a Roku+ for streaming movie and audio
  • Access to Google Play suite and apps
  • Nearly stock Android experience
  • Smarter than the average “smart TV”

Room for improvement:

  • Trackpad for the Wireless Keyboard option is not as responsive as we’d like
  • Desktop experience takes some getting used to
  • Not all that great for playing games

Where to buy

You can learn more about the FAVI SmartStick at the FAVI website where you can also purchase the device and accessories. You’ll also find the 4GB model on Amazon for $49.99. We did find that the optional Wireless Keyboard was only $30, or roughly 25% less.